Should You Use Your Apple Watch in the Shower?

Is “just in case” worth the risk?

When the Apple Watch was first introduced, there was a lot of optimism about the new ways it would enable us to be productive. One of the common questions was whether you would be able to wear it in the shower to talk to Siri.

I understand the question. We can come up with some great ideas in the shower. This might be the only time we have to step back from a problem and think about it, and Siri gives us a way to capture those key insights.

If you really can’t go 10 minutes without talking to Siri, then yes. Yes, you can wear your Apple Watch (series 2 or later) in the shower. With some precautions, you won’t even break it.

Photo courtesy of © Adobe Stock / Lucian Milasan

How to Find the Problems that are Really Holding You Back

Some inefficiencies waste more of our potential than others.

Energy is the capacity to do work. It’s stored in electrical, chemical, thermal, gravitational, nuclear, or mechanical form and transformed by machines into another form. It’s never a perfect transformation. Some of the potential is lost to inefficiency—friction, heat, vibration, noise, wear.

In a Freshman Physics class, you often model things using a spherical cow of uniform density in a vacuum (they’re also frictionless, inert, of a neutral charge…). You are taught to ignore the inefficiencies so you can focus on the larger principles.

We often make the same simplifications when we plan. That’s not a bad thing, but it does mean that things aren’t going to go as planned. Sound familiar? It happens because your planning model is off.

The simplest way to get more done is to remove the inefficiencies. Let more of that potential be transformed into useful work.

Photo courtesy of © Adobe Stock / Daxiao Productions

How to Automate Your Workflows on iOS

Let your phone work without waiting for you.

Anything you do on a regular basis (which you can’t eliminate or delegate) can and should be automated. If you have to do it, you may as well make it as easy as possible. (You’ll also waste less time procrastinating and actually do it.)

It’s not even the big things that need automated. Sometimes, it’s the small things—the deaths by a thousand cuts—that we appreciate more.

On macOS, you have AppleScript, a powerful language to create custom workflows and tie apps together. There’s also Automator, an app that lets you create workflows by combining actions with drag-and-drop simplicity—no programming required!

On iOS, there’s the aptly-named Workflow. Like Automator, you create a workflow by dragging together a series of actions. Each action performs a task and passes the result on to the next step.

To be honest, I didn’t really get what Workflow was capable of when I first heard about it. I knew how Automator (and AppleScript) worked, and I knew that wasn’t possible on an iPhone. It only made sense after I downloaded it and started using it.

So let’s create one of the workflows that I use the most: telling my wife I’m on my way home.

Photo courtesy of © Adobe Stock / nd3000. I’m sure the photo wasn’t taken while the car was in motion.

How To Triage 3,000 Emails In Just 10 Minutes

Stay on top of email in just minutes a day

Triage started with the battlefield practice of focusing medical treatment on the wounded soldiers who would most benefit from it. Medics would quickly assess the condition of a patient and focus their efforts where they would have the greatest impact.

We send 269 billion email messages per day. The average knowledge worker spends 28% of their time on email. It’s little wonder that getting through your email can feel like you’re shoveling the sidewalk while it’s still snowing.

Even when you eliminate all the email you can, even if it’s actually your job to process email, you still want to get in, get out, and get on with your day.

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Should You Separate Personal and Professional Tasks?

Build a better planner by separating concerns.

Your trusted system needs to cover every aspect of your life. If it can’t handle everything you throw at it, you won’t trust it to handle anything.

Many people will get by just fine with a single system that will track all of their tasks, goals, projects, calendar, and notes. But for a lot of people, having everything in a single system like that can be distracting. For some, it might even be illegal, or at least a bad idea.

Designing your system to keep personal and professional tasks separate can actually give you a better system overall.

Photo courtesy of © Adobe Stock / blacksalmon

Can Your Watch Answer These Practical Questions?

Eleven Questions I Regularly Throw at My Apple Watch

One of the hot topics in personal computing today is wearables, specifically smart watches (other ideas haven’t really taken off).

I got an Apple Watch when they were first released. I had some specific ideas of how it could help me get more done with less friction. Other uses would present themselves as I got used to it and new apps were released.

It didn’t take long before my Watch was an integral part of my productivity system. Here are the top eleven questions I’ve started using my Watch to answer as I go through my day.

Photo courtesy of © Adobe Stock / bramgino

10 Simple Ways to Conquer Your Drive

Driving is an Important Task. Have you planned for it?

Driving is a task. You may not think about it much, but we spend 101 minutes every day driving.

If you’re the one behind the wheel, driving is your primary task at the moment. Like any task, the amount of preparation and attention you give it will affect how quickly and efficiently you finish.

Here are ten tips to help you drive more productively.

Photo courtesy of © Adobe Stock / Minerva Studio

If Now Isn’t a Good Time, Never Might Be Better

Deferring work gives you time to reconsider it.

I have thousands of unread articles in Pocket. According to ReadKit, it’s 2,264. I doubt I’m going to read them all.

When I have time, I’ll sit down and read through articles. I’ll share the best with others who might find them interesting. Some are deep reads that make me think. Some are light reads that I just skim.

Some of the articles, I delete without reading. At some point, I thought I wanted to read it. Or might want to read it. Maybe. Possibly.

This probably feels familiar to you. If you use a similar workflow for reading the news, checking email, or anything else, you shouldn’t feel guilty about dropping work you deferred until later. It may have already served its purpose.

Photo courtesy of © Adobe Stock / aquarius83men

How to Get Started with Dictation on iOS

Speaking is faster than typing.

When the iPhone was introduced, one of the most innovative and controversial aspects of the design was the keyboard. Before the iPhone, phones either had a physical QWERTY keyboard (like the prevalent Blackberry phones) or relied on a numeric keypad with T9 (like my stylish Motorolla RAZR).

The power of this design choice (obvious in hindsight) is that you can easily change the keyboard without having to change the hardware. Parlez-vous Français? Bam! You’ve got an AZERTY keyboard. Chinese? You have a keyboard that lets you draw characters. TextExpander’s keyboard will expand macros as you type them and Google’s keyboard lets you swipe between letters to spell out words. You can search and browse emoji. On the iPad, there’s even a keyboard that recognizes handwriting.

This is a flexibility that you just don’t have with a hardware keyboard. You can customize how you type according to personal preference.

There’s another keyboard built in to iOS that you may not have tried: the Siri Dictation keyboard. It’s 3x faster than typing.

Photo courtesy of © Adobe Stock / zapp2photo

How to Get More Done Naturally with the Pomodoro Technique

You’re better off taking regular short breaks than pushing through without stopping.

You can’t pick up a set of weights, bust out 240 reps, and expect good things to happen. For one thing, if you can do 240 reps without stopping, you don’t have enough weight. If you have the correct weight, your muscles will give out after about fifteen reps.

Instead of going for one set of 240, break it up. Do fifteen reps, then rest for a minute or two. Call that a set. Do four sets of four different exercises, and you can easily get 240 reps in an hour-long workout.

The key is the rest between each set. That one- or two-minute break gives your muscles a much-needed rest to recover. Work them too hard—including not giving them that break—and you’re just going to get tired without seeing the results you’re after.

Your brain needs rest between reps while it’s working, too. The Pomodoro Technique, developed by Francesco Cirillo, is designed to help you develop a similar natural cadence at work.

Photo courtesy of © Adobe Stock / praisaeng